Nickel Plate - Indiana Northern

Operate the Indiana Northern railroad and run the Nickel Plate trackage from Toledo, OH, to Frankfort, IN. Dispatching utilizes track warrants and TimeTable - Train Order paperwork. This is customized according to how familiar the operators are with the prototype systems; our main goal here is to keep it fun. We utilize a computer program for card forwarding and the system in use today is Rail-Op.

This is a multi-level layout running transition-era motive power. Crews stay very busy performing switching and interchange movements. It is 1956 - the last days of steam and the first days of total dieselization on the 2nd subdivision of the NKP. We run Digitrax tethered and radio throttles and use Rail-Op car forwarding. We have a timetable (TT) in place and try to keep our passengers happy. We also use Track Warrants when the operators would like to operate in this manner; this practice seems to work well. The pace of the layout is deliberately slow. We do have a fast clock set at a 4:1 ratio, but this is for the scheduled TT trains. The yardmasters do not have to worry about the TT when originating freights from their yards because these are extras. However, they do have to observe the TT and have pick-ups available for the scheduled trains, unless the train is annulled. We have four passenger trains east and west and two mixed trains east and west in a 24-hour period. A normal op session is from 3 to 4 hours, or it can be longer. Scenery is over 50% completed (it will never be done), but our goal is to make it look complete. We have staging at Toledo, OH, and Frankfort, IN. We start at Toledo staging; run through Delphos, Ohio City, Willshire (all in Ohio); run through Decatur, Van Buren, Greentown (all in Indiana); and end at Frankfort staging. The terminal staging areas do have switching that needs to be done. There are interchanges with the NYC, ACY, and our road - the Indiana Northern (IN). The IN road has a branch that goes to Monroe and does its own switching. The layout is currently dark territory; signaling will be installed at the diamonds and the Train Order boards will become operational at a later date.



Division or Location: 

Nickel Plate Railroad, 2nd Subdivision


Secondary main line, local and through freights, passenger and mixed freight



Size of Railroad: 

42 feet long x 18 inches wide, double deck, with staging peninsula;




Track: 100%; Scenery: 50%; Electrical: 80%

Control System: 

Digitrax DCC, tethered and radio throttles

Number of Crew: 

Minimum: 1; Maximum: 8

Length of Session: 

3+ hours, with break, flexible end time; soft drinks and snack

Scale Clock Speed: 

4 to 1, when it is used; otherwise no clock

Traffic Control: 

Dispatcher, TimeTable/Train Order (TT/TO), Rail-Op;

Radios Required: 


Listed Jobs: 

Engineer, Conductor, Yardmaster, Dispatcher
(2-person crews, mainline freight / passenger, local switching)